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Opinions of Thursday, 21 March 2019

Columnist: James Kofi Annan

The UEW war and matters arising

Entrance to the University of Education Entrance to the University of Education

The University of Education is bleeding. It is bleeding from power, greed, and evil. It feels as though the institution is at war with itself, in much the same way as it is faced with an external invasion equal to the war within, with all of us, you and I, having assumed spectators’ role, watching as one individual take the center stage in an avowed mission to bring the school to its knees.

My greatest pride is having succeeded in becoming an alumnus of a university that is cited in my home town, and this same university becoming the catalyst for the town’s economy. I believe this alone should be enough for all of us who are forcing the university to have a corporate social responsibility, a term which has been abused in recent times. It’s only an acute ignorance that makes an educated person ask for corporate social responsibility from a struggling not-for-profit public institution. The whole essence of a public institution is a social responsibility. Why are we not asking the High Court in Winneba to Institute a corporate social responsibility?

Why is it that if the University of Education has decided to employ most of its junior staff from the local community, then one person should be the one to decide who gets that employment? Why should you be the person to decide who gets promoted, and who gets transferred to an academic institution such us UEW, when you are not a staff of the university? Why should anyone agree to GHC10 levies on each student, for you, when these students are already financially burdened? Or you have not heard that some of the students virtually live on the benevolence of others?

This never-ending attack on the university seems to be touted in it being for the interest of Winneba, but it ends up as the spoils of war for one person. The whole thing began as a demand for local content. My question is; what happened when the university deliberately relaxed the procurement processes to accommodate the suppliers in the local community? It became a low-hanging fruit for one person. I was shocked to the core when somewhere in 2018 I met the apostles of UEW anti-corruption crusade, in a 9 pm meeting in a private house, with the University of Education’s procurement officer (the only UEW staff) in attendance, and the university’s procurement officer being directed as to who he should give what contract to, and at what price.

When I got to the scene, the procurement officer was directed to award me some of the contracts. I became so angry that I told the apostles of anti-corruption in the face, that, that is not how I was brought up in my village. In the village where I was brought up, you work for what you have, you don’t cheat your way to the top, and you don’t cheat your way to riches.

I need money, and the heavily inflated contracts that were being offered could have improved upon my journeys into riches. But I never took those contracts, and even refused to take the phone contacts of the said procurement officer when I was offered. That did not make me an Angel, but it is never right for one person to destroy a whole university for his personal control and greed.

That is why I will reiterate my position, that the factions in UEW are themselves capable of seeking momentum for their causes. Underlining the pains they are all going through is one person who will stop at nothing but to use anyone and any means to get his way. In the end, everyone who allowed him access will lose the game to him. I should have known this ten years ago.

Last year a massive wedge was placed between the then Acting Vice Chancellor and myself when a lie was told that I had mobilized some of the currently dismissed lecturers, including some of the management members of the old administration, to the Jubilee House, to petition the president against the investiture of the current Vice Chancellor. So contrary to what some are being made to believe, the lying behaviour of this same person who is bringing the university to its knees, the lie that was told about me is the cause of a strained relationship that exists between the current administration and myself.

Meanwhile, I was not even in Ghana when the Vice Chancellor’s investiture was being planned. I was not in Ghana when the investiture took place. And I only arrived back in Ghana one clear week after the investiture was done. So how did I mobilize aggrieved lecturers and workers to the Jubilee House?

Today the same lecturers who I was said to have mobilized to protest, are the ones who have been dismissed, and they are the same lecturers who are being made to believe that I am working with the current Vice-Chancellor to worsen their situation. Do you see why I am urging caution on both sides, in allowing one person to manipulate them?

In the last few days, I have reflected on the genesis of this external invasion, and a part of me says I wish I never wrote an article about it when it all began in 2017. But I would have written something about it if this issue had occurred in another university in another region, so why should I not have written something about it? Therein lies the duties of a Journalist; write, even if it affects you, and even if they think you are attacking others, and even if they align you into a faction.

Anyway, I have enjoyed the drama that has engulfed the Central Regional Minister, Honorable Kwamena Duncan. Honourable, I hope you now understand the pains I have endured in the last couple of years? If you had taken steps to tame the toad, the resultant frog would not have grown to undermine your authority. And I am waiting patiently for one day to come, and that day will surely come when Honorable Kennedy Agyapong would regret ever being associated with this pepper-spiced Angel.

I will say no more, for now, and I believe Ken might even descend on me for saying what I have said, but my brother, that day will surely come, when you will realize how you might have been deliberately misled into doing some wrong things, and these same wrong things being used against you by the same person who might have deliberately misled you into those wrong things.

Still, the battle is the Lord’s!